HR Blog

Happy Christmakwanzukah!

12/01/2017 | Dee Yingst

Practical Advice for Enjoying this Holiday Season

Ever get a song stuck in your head? Right now an Andy Williams song is stuck in my head: "It's the holiday season…the holiday season…with the whoop-de-do and hickory dock, and don't forget to hang up your sock…."  It's hard to avoid the Christmas music this time of year. It's everywhere from the radio to the grocery store to street corners.

But Christmas isn't the only holiday that gets celebrated at this time of year.  It's important that your employees know that you know that.

Which of course brings us to the conversation we have every year at this time: diversity & inclusion.  If your office holiday celebration excludes particular employees, then it's not really a celebration is it? Whether you're celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Milad un Nabi (The Prophet's Birthday), Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, December Solstice or even National Lemon Cupcake Day (yes, that's a thing and it's December 15th if you're interested) it's important that your celebrations don't include making anyone feel bad if they don't celebrate with you. Some people choose not to celebrate any particular holiday – and that's ok too.

In the spirit of the season I'd like to reiterate my usual thoughts on annual holiday celebrations:

There is no such thing as compulsory fun. If you have to mandate employees to attend a company party then you have bigger problems than whether your hors d'oeuvres should be hot or cold.  A mandated event could cost you a bundle in wages for nonexempt employees too, especially if we're talking about overtime. If it's a formal event that includes say, a report on the state of the company, then mandate. Otherwise, you're just mandating fun – and that's no fun.

Leave the aerobics at the gym. Unless you enjoy paying workers' compensation claims, stay away from limbo contests, dance contests, etc.

Hire a real bartender and stick to a drink limit. Do I even need to explain why? For that matter, do you really need to have alcohol at your party??

No mistletoe at the party. Please tell me I don't have to explain this one either.

It's a holiday party, not a religious event or service. We're back to diversity again. Either the celebration includes everyone or it includes no one. It's just common sense and will go a long way toward fostering a more inclusive workforce.

And most of all during this season: If someone wants to wish you or each other or the delivery guy/gal a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, a Happy Kwanzaa or even just a Happy Holiday understand that they are sharing their joy the way they know how. Don't get worked up over how someone expresses their good wishes, just be glad they did.